Testing ACTi E97 10MP Camera

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 13, 2014

$200 for a 10MP camera? Too good to be true or the next big thing to stand out from the commoditizing HD market?

After years going sideways, ACTi is pushing hard with an ambitious, broad line of low cost products. Their recent release of the 10MP E97 minidome is perhaps the best example, drawing a lot of attention for its $200 price.

Non proprietary, H.264, 10MP cameras are pretty rare. Arecont has the widest offerings here. And, interestingly, Arecont likes to brag that camera decisions are all about getting the most pixels per dollar. Indeed, if that is the case, this new ACTi blows Arecont away.

The Test

Low cost and higher resolution are clearly two of the biggest needs in surveillance, so we bought an E97 and matched it up against the Arecont 10MP (which we tested here) as well as the Axis M30 1080p (tested here).

Here's what they look like in our test setup (from left to right, ACTi E97, Arecont AV10115, Samsung SNB-5004, and Axis M3005):

Our goal was to determine:

  • Whose 10MP image quality is better - the ACTi or Arecont? Both in day and night scenes
  • How much of a difference did the 10MP ACTi and Arecont do against the 1080p Axis? Both in day and night scenes
  • What type of bandwidth premium did the 10MPs require compared to the 1080p?
  • Overall, what benefit, if any, does a $200 10MP deliver compared to current offerings?
  • $*** *** * **** camera? *** **** ** be **** ** *** next *** ***** ** stand *** **** *** commoditizing ** ******?

    ***** ***** ***** ********, ACTi ** ******* **** with ** *********,***** ****** *** **** ********. Their ****** ******* ** the **** *** ******** is ******* *** **** example, ******* **** ** ********* *** its $*** *****.

    *** ***********, *.***, **** cameras *** ****** ****. Arecont *** *** ****** offerings ****. ***, *************, Arecont ***** ** **** that ****** ********* *** all ************ *** **** ****** per ******. ******, ** **** is *** ****, **** new **** ***** ******* away.

    The ****

    *** **** *** ****** resolution *** ******* *** of *** ******* ***** in ************, ** ** bought ** *** *** matched ** ** ******* the ******* **** (***** we****** ****) ** **** ** the **** *** ***** (****** ****).

    ****'* **** **** **** like ** *** **** setup (**** **** ** right, **** ***, ******* AV10115, ******* ***-****, *** Axis *****):

    *** **** *** ** determine:

    • ***** **** ***** ******* is ****** - *** ACTi ** *******? **** in *** *** ***** scenes
    • *** **** ** * difference *** *** **** ACTi *** ******* ** against *** ***** ****? Both ** *** *** night ******
    • **** **** ** ********* premium *** *** ***** require ******** ** *** 1080p?
    • *******, **** *******, ** any, **** * $*** 10MP ******* ******** ** current *********?

    [***************]

    Key ********

    **** *** *** *** findings **** *** ****:

    • *********** ** **** ***** at ****** ***** (~**' to ******, ~**' ********** FOV) ******** ****** **** the ** ** ******* AV10115, **** **** ******* of ******* *** *****.
    • **** ***** *********** ** longer ***** (~**' ** target, ~***' ****) ********** less ***** **** ******* AV10115, **** ***** **** less *******, *** ** poorer ***** ******** *** lens *******.
    • *** ***** *********** ****** than ******* *******, **** detection ********, *** ** details ********.
    • *********** ****** **** ******* focus, ******* ** ** partially *********** *** ****** to *******.
    • ********* *********** ******** ***** than ******* ******* ** full ***** (****** **** higher ** *** *****, since *** ******* ******** an *********** ***** *****).
    • *********, ******** ** ***** cameras, ** *** **** frame ****, *** ** greater *** *** **** ACTi ******, * ******* increase.
    • *** ********* ** *** light **** ** (****** typical ***********) ** ** or ******, *********** ******** quality. **** ******** ** matter ***** ********* ****** was ****, *** ** CBR.

    *******

    ***************

    *** *** ****** ******** advantages ** ****, ****** lit ****** ** ****, especially ****** **** ******* its **** ***** ***** than *********** **** *******. However, ** ****** ******, some ******* ** ****, reducing *** ********** *** identification. ** *** ***** is * *** *******, users ***** ** ****** off ***** ***** ********** or *****, ** **** detection ** ********, ** most, ***** *** ***. Additionally, ** ******** *** a ******** ******** ** storage *****, ***** *** ~8x ******* ********* ***********.

    *************, **** ** ********* other **** ******* ** 2014 **** ******* ********** IR *** ********* ******, which *** ** * better ****** *** ***** wanting * ************ ****** with ****** ********** *** better *** ***** ***********.

    Factory ***** ******

    ** ***** *********** ***** issues **** *** *** out ** *** ***, despite ****** **** ** ships ***-******* **** *** factory. ********** *** ** accomplished ** ********** * locking **** *** ****** turning *** *** ****, though **** ****** **** ~10-15 *******. *** ***** below ***** *** *********** in *********** ******* ******* focus *** ********** *** testing:

    ** ********* ** *********** check / ******* ****** initial ***** ****** **** taking * **** **** the ****** *** ******* out ** *****.

    Physical ********

    ** **** ***** ** review *** ******** **** factor ** *** ****** and *** ********:

    Web ********* ********

    **** ***** ******* *** web ********* ** *** E97:

    Video ******* ********

    ***** *** ***** ***** of *** **** *** in *** ** **** full ***** *** **** scenes ** *** ******'* max * ****** *** Second.

    Image ***********

    ** **** *** **** ACTi *** ** *** conference **** *** ****** scenes ** **** **** and *** ***** ************. We ****** *** *** against ******** *******:

    • *** ******* ******* ** a *********** **** ******.
    • *** **** ******, ** order ** **** *********** between ***** *** **** across * ********* **** field ** **** (*** vs. ***).
    • *** ***-**** ** * comparison ******* * *** light ********* ******.

    ********** ****

    **** ***** ***** *** FOV **** ** **** test:

    **** *****

    ** ****** *** ******* about ~**' **** *** cameras ** ***** ** test *********** ** ***** quality. ** **** ***** and *** *****, *** ACTi *** ******** ****, with **** ***** ******* than *** ******* ******* (**** to **** * **. line *), *** ******* details ** *** *******. 

    *** *****

    ** *** *****, *** E97 *** **** ****** see *** **** ***** and *******, ***** *** Arecont **** ******** ** usable *****. *** *** light ********* ******* ***-**** easily *********** *** *** other ******* ** *** test.

    ******

    ** ***** *** **** setup ** * ****** area, ****** ** * 100' ********** *** ** order ** *** *********** in *********** ** ****** range.

    **** ***** ***** *** FOV **** ** **** scene:

    **** *****

    **** *** ******* ** this ********, *** ***'* performance **** ****** *** AV10115, **** **** *** first **** ** *** chart ***** *******, ****** subject ******* *** ******* the ****. *** ***** is ****** ************ ** the *** ** **** range.

    *** *****

    ** **** *****, *** E97 ** ****** ** detect *** *******. *** M3005 *** ***-**** *** able **** **** ** detect *** ***** ** this *****, *** *** the *******.

    *********

    ** *** *****, ** ****** which ********* ****** ** chose (*** ** ***), bandwidth ****** ******, *** quantization ********* ** *** light (**** ~** ** ~41 ***** "****" *******). Based ** ****, ** seems **** *** ***'* VBR ************** ** ******, and *** ** **** no ****** **** ** selected.

    ***** *** *******' ******* framerates, *** *** ***'* bandwidth ***** *** ***** than **** *** ******* AV10115 *** **** ***** in **** *****, ****** it *** *** ******* consumption ** *** *****. *******, standardizing *** ******* ** 6 *** (*** ***'* maximum), *********** ** *** M3005 ***** ************* ** about .* **/*, *** lowest ********* ** *** test. 

    ***** ****** **** **** huge ******** ** ********* at ******* ********** **** weighing ********* ** ****, as **** **** ****** in **** ****** ******* needs, ** ****.

    Test **********

    *** ******* **** ****** using ******* ********, ****** for ********, ***** *** standardized ** */***. *** following ******** ******** **** used ** **** ****:

    • **** ***: ***-***-**.**.**-**
    • ******* *******: *****
    • **** *****: *.**.*.*
    • ******* ***-****: *.*********

Comments (17)

Was the same lens used for all 4 cameras?

We use the manufacturer recommended or integrated lenses for each model, for all tests.

No, the lenses are not the same, and it would not even be physically possible to make them all the same.

This test reflects the actual performance of the full camera 'system'.

Thank you for the confirmation. I wanted to know the lens as certain lens on a box type camera will give an edge to it. Glad to see the tests being done but would like to have a color comparison chart as well if possible.

Nice report though I don't see the bandwidth consumption chart really being useful for comparision unless all cameras are doing the same framerate. Ideally maybe do two charts, one with call cameras doing same FPS and another doing their max FPS. But if only one is used I'd prefer one with all cameras at the same FPS.

Hey Luis, fair point. We've updated the report with a second, standardized BW chart.

Such interactive and immediate response between subscribers and members of IPVM staff is what really brings value to the product. :)

Good test guys. I would be curious how the ACTi Superior Low Light System (SLLS) compares to the Samsung Super Light Enhancer, maybe downstream you could do a test of the various Low Light offerings.

What's a model number you are recommending? I am not sure which ACTi cameras are 'SLLS' approved or not.

Multiple units; in E series it includes E94 1.3MP or E95 2MP in the same format as the E97 for instance.

In a Box Cameras, it would be the E23. The secret is anything that says specifically 1.3MP or 2MP are Super Low Light. 1MP/3MP/5MP/10MP are not SLLS.

I received my acti e97 camera today and I also had to focus the camera as it was not done very well from factory. Looks like acti is having some quality control issues.

Duncan, good feedback! We have a discussion on factory focus issues. I am still curious to know how manufacturers focus at the factory. I presume there's has to be a human being manually verifying each one. yes/no?

That is a great question. I will ask how we do it, and report back.

In your test devices picture you are saying : "Here's what they look like in our test setup (from left to right, Axis M3005, Samsung SNB-5004, Arecont 10MP and ACTi 10MP)" ...but you have just 4 cameras . Please check.

We mention 4 cameras (Axis, Samsung, Arecont, ACTi) and then show 4 cameras. Am I missing something here?

It looks like the Axis is on the right side in the pic to me. Shouldn't it read from right to left?

Wow, someone fixed it within 1 second of me posting, now thats service!

I am stuck with 2 E97's, I was able to return 4 plus all the E77's I bought. I have a better picture with my Hikvision 3mp vandal domes at half the price!

The E97 makes a fine paperweight, but don't try to use one as a boat anchor, they float.

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